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I am so grateful to God for these last two years that Gay and I have spent with you. When Archbishop Philip spoke with me and invited me to consider becoming Dean of Taranaki, it certainly felt like God's call as much as the archbishop's! I had been Dean of Christchurch for 10 years and had lived and ministered through the earthquakes to a community in shock with a cathedral pretty much in ruins, and amongst thousands of people particularly in the east of Christchurch where we live, traumatised by what had happened and its aftermath.
Here you were facing the trauma of your cathedral being closed because it is earthquake prone and it was also the time for Dean Jamie to move on to follow his call to establish the Retreat.
It was not hard for us to accept the call and we agreed to come for two years. Now we head home to Christchurch to retire [or what in a recent copy of the Listener described of us baby-boomers, to rewire!], and to celebrate my up-coming 70th birthday. I'm sure I'm not going to sit on my hands and I'm sure too that I'm going to embrace a somewhat more gentle pace than the exhilarating demands of full-time ordained ministry.
What has so encouraged and humbled me in these two years is the profound sense of the Holy Spirit sometimes burning as fire, sometimes gentle as a dove, guiding us all, challenging us, cleansing us, enabling us to embrace the future we can have as the community of the Taranaki Cathedral of St Mary. God is so obviously present in what is going on here. I give thanks and praise to God for all of you, and for the energy, determination and faith you have not just for the beautiful cathedral you love so much, but also for the vision that is being shaped amongst you here. I will continue to pray the Cathedral Prayer, and I have no doubt that through the grace of God you will achieve the vision that God is unfolding before you.
I look forward to returning for the re-opening of the cathedral as a place of worship in our Anglican tradition, where people of all faiths and none are welcome, where the province can come to celebrate and grieve, where the story of Taranaki from 1846 can be told honestly and boldly, and where the on-going journey towards peace and reconciliation is being pursued. This will be the place that will I truly believe be a worthy acknowledgment of the contribution Sir Paul Reeves has made to our nation, and where visitors from home and away can taste and see something of the essence of what we strive to be as New Zealanders.
Thank you for all the grace and care you have shown to us. God is blessing this cathedral community.
Kia kaha, Peter